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My early dating life and first few relationships were pretty rocky.

I was dating guys and I didn’t know where it was going. I was lusting after guys who didn’t like me back.I was hooking up with guys but not sure if we were “dating.” I was actively dating guys and not sure if they liked me. Or I wasn’t sure if I liked them.

Now, my hookups, dating and relationships are much more steady.

A bit part of what changed was me. And I didn’t magically change as time went on. I worked at getting in touch with myself, what was important to me, what I wanted and needed, and how my relationship(s) were going.

Journaling has been one of the most useful tools in building a better relationship with myself, my family, my friends, and my romantic and sexual partners. I want to share with you how that’s helped me improve my relationships and how it can help you, too.

Want to get weekly journal prompts + reminders to journal + some personal insights from my journaling process? Click here to signup. (It’s free)

My relationships aren’t effortless by any means — I still feel insecure uncertain jealous, lonely, or any number of uncomfortable feelings sometimes. But over the years I developed some tools and practices that have helped me navigate relationships with a bit more ease.

As a result, my sex, dating and relationship life is on balanced, more fun and fulfilling.

Today, I want to share with you one of those practices that has helped me in my dating and relationship life so that you have another tool in your toolkit to building a strong relationship with yourself and your significant other. Or your significant others.

Relationships take work. And that work starts with you. Now, that doesn’t mean that relationships should be stressful. It doesn’t mean that giving up key parts of yourself, your interests, your values or your friends for the sake of a relationship is romantic. It isn’t. And it also shouldn’t be used to justify toxic behaviors, or even to justify a relationship where your values or interests don’t match. That’s not what we’re talking about.

There are a whole bunch of inspirational quotes that talk about how change starts within you. And that’s true for relationships as well. You can’t change anyone but yourself. You can inspire people to change, you can ask people to change, but you can’t really force anyone to change.

Journaling can help you get clear on what you’re feeling, wanting and needing

This practice of doing the work for a relationship, or any practice of doing the work in a relationship isn’t something that you can do by yourself. You can’t fix a relationship all by yourself. It takes two to tango, or three to have a conga line. Your partner or partners need to be engaged as well.

There’s no amount of journaling or communications training or any other relationship tools that can make a healthy relationship out of one where one or more partners are just completely disengaged. It’s just not how it works.

I’ve journaled on and off for the past eight to 10 years sometimes daily and sometimes very infrequently.

  • When I was thinking about talking to my boyfriend Peter about wanting an open relationship, I took to journaling first to figure out exactly what I was thinking, what I was wanting and how I might talk to him.
  • When we were going through the process of figuring out how to open up our relationship, I turned to journaling.
  • As we started hooking up for the first time, dating other people for the first time, when he started dating people for the first time,
  • As we figured our relationships to each other’s families,
  • navigating moving in together,
  • talking about combining our financing…

Journaling has been there every step of the way to help me process and make sense of and lay a foundation of support for our relationship.

So here’s how I journal.

Here’s a process that might work for you.

Make a commitment

Making a commitment is the most important step. If you don’t decide that you’re gonna do it, you’re not gonna do it.

Pick a time

Picking a time is the second most important step in this process. If you don’t set aside a time, chances are, you’re not going to do it. I recommend doing it first thing in the morning or after something you do regularly, like showering or eating breakfast, meal prepping, working out. If you wanna journal daily, pick something that you do every day. If you’re okay with journaling a few times a week or once a week, pick something that you do regularly but not every day.

Pick a format

So there are two main formats for journaling: free writing or following prompts. Or you can do a combination of both, either within the same session, or from day-to-day as the spirit moves you.

If you want to sort of free write, just start writing stream of conscious style. Whatever comes up for you, write it down. You can pick a set amount of time that you wanna write for or a set number of pages.

If you’re just getting started, pick one page or even five minutes. If you really wanna push yourself, commit to writing three pages, or for writing for 30 minutes. When you really push yourself to write a bit longer, that’s when you start to really get into the juiciness of your subconscious, and that’s where some important work happens.

If you want to use prompts, all that you do is reflect on and respond to a set of prompts.

That could be the same prompts every time or a different set of prompts every time. You can Google journaling prompts. You can sign up here and I will send you some prompts, or you can use some of these prompts to get started.

Journaling prompts for morning journalers

  • “Here’s what I learned yesterday…”
  • “What do I want to get out of today?”
  • “I’m grateful for…”

Journaling prompts for evening journalers

  • “What went well today?”
  • “Here’s what I learned today…”
  • “These things didn’t feel so great, and here’s what I want to do differently in response…”
  • “I’m grateful for…”

You can also mix and match as your needs or mood change.

Some days I just want a short, simple, structured reflection. Other days, I need to write and write and write and write and write to get all of the thoughts and feelings out of my head. There’s no right or wrong way to journal. Just get started.

In fact, take three minutes right now to journal. Pull out a piece of paper, pull up Google Docs, open up Text Edit, or Evernote, or whatever it is, and let’s get you journaling right now.

Here are some ideas on what you could write about right now. Write about your day so far. Write about what you want out of a relationship. Write about something that you’re excited about. Write about something that you’re frustrated about. Write about something that you saw or heard recently that inspired you. Write about a fantasy that you have.

Take a few minutes right now to actually journal. Then, pop over to comments on Facebook or YouTube and let me know if you did this, or if you already have a journaling practice going.

I also sometimes start or end my day with some daily affirmations about myself. More on that here.

Journaling has been a game changer for my life and my relationships, and I hope that it will help you.

If you would like to join me in starting or continuing a journaling practice, I would love that! You can sign up here for weekly reminders to journal and I’ll also send you some journaling prompts. Sometimes I will share with you through the results of my journaling. Sometimes that will be private for me, and you can respond as you feel called or interested. I would love to journal alongside you for the next little bit.

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